The “Worktivity” mHealth intervention to reduce sedentary behaviour in the workplace: a feasibility cluster randomised controlled pilot study

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Background: Office work generally consists of high amounts of sedentary behaviour (SB) which has been associated with negative health consequences. We developed the “WorktivIty” mobile app to help office workers reduce their SB through self-monitoring and feedback on sedentary time, prompts to break sedentary time, and educational facts. The aim of this paper is to report the feasibility of delivering the Worktivity intervention to desk-based office workers in the workplace setting and describe methodological considerations for a future trial.
Methods: We conducted a three-arm feasibility cluster randomised controlled pilot study over an 8-week period with full time-desk based employees. Clustered randomisation was to one of three groups: Worktivity mobile app (MA; n = 20), Worktivity mobile app plus SSWD (MA+SSWD; n = 20), or Control (C; n = 16). Feasibility was assessed using measures of recruitment and retention, intervention engagement, intervention delivery, completion rates and usable data, adverse events, and acceptability.
Results: Recruitment of companies to participate in this study was challenging (8% of those contacted), but retention of individual participants within the recruited groups was high (81% C, 90% MA + SSWD, 95% MA). Office workers’ engagement with the app was moderate (on average 59%). Intervention delivery was partially compromised due to diminishing user engagement and technical issues related to educational fact delivery. Sufficient amounts of useable data were collected, however either missing or unusable data were observed with activPAL™, with data loss increasing at each follow up time point. No serious adverse events were identified during the study. The majority of participants agreed that the intervention could be implemented within the workplace setting (65% MA; 72% MA + SSWD) but overall satisfaction with the intervention was modest (58% MA; 39% MA + SSWD).
Conclusions: The findings suggest that, in principle, it is feasible to implement a mobile app-based intervention in the workplace setting however the Worktivity intervention requires further technical refinements before moving to effectiveness trials. Challenges relating to the initial recruitment of workplaces and maintaining user engagement with the mHealth intervention over time need to be addressed prior to future large-scale implementation. Further research is needed to identify how best to overcome these challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1416
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 18 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AS was supported by a Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship from Ulster University. Invest Northern Ireland partially supported this project under the Competence Centre Programme Grant RD0513853 – Connected Health Innovation Centre.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Research
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Occupational health
  • Office work
  • Digital health
  • Health behaviour
  • Mobile apps
  • Sit-stand work desk
  • Humans
  • Digital Health
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Workplace
  • Sit-stand Work Desk
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Behaviour
  • Office Work
  • Pilot Projects
  • Telemedicine
  • Mobile Apps
  • Sedentary Behavior


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